Last week the Elonex iGame Family TV Games Dock arrived and after the brief unboxing video I connected it to the TV right away. Easy connection and setup as well as being quite attractive, what did we think of the iGame? Read on to find out!
The iGame ‘console’ dock and controller
The 10 second review:
Device: Elonex iGame Family Games Dock
Summary: A cool looking iPod/iPhone dock with TV connectivity and cool sports games.
Best of: Watch your iPod videos on the big-screen and play some fun family sports games.
Worst of: Controllers a little plasticy and light, games sometimes hiccup, not the best picture quality.
Buy it now from: SuperETrader
What’s in the box?
- The iGame iPod Dock
- Wireless controller
- Mains adapter
- TV connection cable (composite video)
- Batteries for the controller
- Manuals and warranty card
See my iGame unboxing video for a quick tour of the hardware.
The main part of the package then is the iGame dock itself. It’s a circular plastic unit with a silver bar across the middle. The main unit has only three buttons, a power button, reset and a source button. Towards the front of the dock you’ll find a flap which neatly covers the dock connector when not in use.
On the back of the dock you’ll find all of the relevant sockets for plugging the device in. On the left is an ‘iGame Card’ socket that looks like an SD card socket. Next to that the video and audio connectors for hooking up to the TV, using the supplied cable. Finally on the end is the socket for the power cable.
iGame dock back view
So the other part of the kit then is the wireless controller. I’m sure almost everyone will agree that it has more than a passing resemblance to the Wii controller. It works in similar way to the Wii controller, it’s wireless and motion controlled but does not have the optical pickup on the front that the Wii-mote has. The unit takes 2AA batteries which are supplied and also has a built in vibrate function.
The iGame wireless controller
- Good looking design
- Great iPod conectivity
- 10 fun games included
- Bargain price
- Don’t expect Wii quality gaming
- Picture quality isn’t the greatest
- Controller vibrate function annoying
I have to be honest that when I first eyed the iGame and looked at the price I wasn’t expecting a lot from it. It comes in at a price point that’s not much more expensive than a regular TV dock for the iPod or iPhone but with the added gaming element I wondered if the overall result would be poor. So lets take a look.
Setting up the iGame really is a piece of cake. There’s a pretty detailed getting started guide but to be honest I don’t think that most people will need it. It’s just a case of plugging the unit in to the power cable and then in to the TV and switching on, it’s no more difficult than that.
When you first plug in and turn you are welcomed by iGame splash screen and a note saying ‘powered by Elonex’. The screen only appears for a few seconds before you are dropped in to the main menu. What you see on the menu when you first turn on depends on whether or not you have an iPod sitting in the dock.
Assuming that you have an iPod docked you’ll see a menu that lists the types of media on your device and then you can use the wireless remote to navigate through Music, Videos, Shuffle Songs, Settings and Now Playing. This is where you can set up play back of the media stored on the iPod then.
iGame main menu screen
You need to think of the iGame dock in two parts really. One being the more traditional TV dock and the other the gaming element. The reason I say this is that as I already mentioned you can play back the media stored on the iPod and obviously play the games BUT where I was surprised here is that you don’t have to have the iPod or iPhone docked in order to play the games. I thought that the iPod would be an integral part of the game playing but that’s not the case so even if you didn’t own an iPod you could play the games on the iGame!
So looking at the media elements first the iGame brings the same sort of functionality that you would find on your iPod to the large screen. You can go in to music and look through albums, songs, and artists as well as podcasts etc. The menu system is well laid out and almost identical in structure to the one on the iPod itself so takes no getting used to.
Video playback is much the same you can go in a look at the various video sources that you have and then play them back on the TV. Bare in mind though that the resolution of your iPod screen is much lower than that of almost all TV’s so don’t the iPod dock to upscale these small movies to HD for you. Sure the video will fill the screen but depending on the quality of the source footage the results can vary greatly. I downloaded a music video from iTunes to use for testing and the results were acceptable, I’d happily sit through a movie played back on there but I’d make sure it wasn’t my latest favourite, that’s what Blu-ray is for!
Music video on the iGame (anyone guess who this is?)
So media-wise the iGame dock is good. It’s handy to be able to navigate through everything from the comfort of the sofa with the wireless remote and audio playback is perfectly OK. I suspect that something like this will come in handy this Christmas with a house-full of guests!
On to the games part of the iGame. As I mentioned already I was surprised that you can play the games without an iPod being docked but you can! When you turn on simply press the triangle button on the controller to enter the games menu.
iGame game selection screen
There are a total of ten games included on the iGame. A god selection of sports and puzzles games:
Tennis, Bowling, Trampoline, Table Tennis, Dart and Tanks are all motion controlled action games, where you might want to stand up to play them! If you want something more cerebral then there’s SuDoKu, Tangram and Firecracker that do not require the motion control but instead use the D-pad and buttons on the wireless controller.
As you enter each game you can choose either a male or female character.
The control method naturally depends on the game that you are playing. So for example, tennis and table tennis require a more sideways motion where bowling requires that you swing the controller in a more natural bowling motion. Watching someone play the Trampoline game is definitely amusing!
If you’ve ever played on the Wii then you’ll pick the games up right away, controls are pretty intuitive really but when you start each game it does explain how the controls work for that particular one.
The Bowling game
The bowling game is definitely our favourite. Requiring you to swing the controller under-arm and press and release the trigger at the right time during the swing. Not as easy as it sounds.
Overall the game graphics are pretty good and most games are 3D. They wont compete graphically with the Xbox or even the Wii but then they could hardly be expected to! The games are fairly simplistic in that you play them win or lose then that’s it, there’s no complex unlocking of certain things when you achieve a high-score or the like but again that’s to be expected and is in some ways a benefit in that you can just pick a game, play for 10 minutes and then turn it off, they are not overly demanded of your time so you can play from literally 5 minutes to 5 hours if you want.
Additional games can be purchased online from the Elonex store and I guess that’s what we need the iGame card slot on the back of the unit for. I didn’t try to add games to the unit but I understand that new games are inexpensive to buy.
My biggest bug bare with the system was the vibrate function of the wireless controller. It’s an annoying buzzy thing inside the controller that cant be turned off it would seem. What made it worse was that almost every action in some games resulted in a buzz from the controller. Wish there was an option in the setting to turn this off but sadly there’s not one that I can find and in fact the settings menu is pretty sparse with just language and PAL/NTSC settings that are of any note.
Overall the Elonex iGame is an impressive product that provides good value entertainment and iPod connectivity. The games were able to keep two adults amused for a few hours one evening and we’ve been back to play for short periods of time since.
Don’t try to compare this to the Wii. The games and controls are no where near as goods as the Wii but don’t take that as too harsh a criticism of the iGame, consider the cost here and what else if can do too.
This isn’t a product that I would add to my living room but certainly a good addition to a young persons bedroom setup and a worthy addition to anyone’s Christmas list!
Review by: Matt